May 102010
 

heA consortium led by the UK Government’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency has launched The Human Element: a guide to human behaviour in the shipping industry. Put together by organisational psychologists, the guide shows how human behaviour is at the heart of the shipping industry, generating its successes and its failures. The guide provides insight, explanation and advice to help everyone involved in the global shipping industry manage the human element more safely, more effectively and more profitably.

Says the Standard Club: “(We) became involved in developing the guide as we felt it would be an important industry initiative that would benefit all involved in the shipping industry.

“Analysis of continuing shipping disasters has increasingly implicated the human element. The loss of life, the impact on company profits and credibility, and the vast environmental damage that can result from the loss of even a single vessel remain clear and present dangers.”

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May 262008
 

In The Case Of The Electric Assassin I suggested that, if you’re going to enter an enclosed space without the proper equipment or precautions then dig two graves, one for yourself and one for the poor sods who’ll try and rescue you. That recommendations was validated by two virtually identical incidents, several thousand miles apart, within just 24 hours.

There’ll be little wonder that maritime casualty investigators grind their teeth in frustration when these enclosed space incidents occur, partly because they keep happening and partly because little is done to stop them happening.

On 20th May this year at Port Everglades a dock superviser, Hyman Sooknanan, entered an enclosed space aboard Madelaine, a 110 metre cargo ship, to investigate a suspected leak of argon from a container gas tank.

He didn’t return, nor did he respond to radio calls. Worried, a second docker, James Cason, wrapped a shirt around his face and entered the space to find out what happened to Sooknanan. He didn’t reappear either. Now a third man, Rene Robert Duterte did the same, with the same result.

In 20 minutes, three men were dead, the last two because they’d tried the help the first.

Argon isn’t chemically poisonous but it does displace oxygen in the air, asphyxiating the victim. It gets you almost without warning and wrapping something around your face isn’t going to stop it happening when there’s no oxygen in the atmosphere to breathe.

On 22nd May in Chongming Dadong Shipping Yard, Shanghai, 21st May in Florida, three Filipino seafarers died and 10 were injured, all from a single vessel, the Hakone, in an incident involving leakage of another suffocating gas, carbon dioxide.

As research by Don Sheetz of the Vanuatu Registry for the Maritime Accident Investigators International Forum shows, these were not isolated incidents. In just three months, Sheetz gathered reports on 120 enclosed space incidents with 228 from just 16 flag registries over a period of about 10 years. With figures from the largest registries still not available, some estimate that the true figure may be as high as 1,000 deaths.

Says Sheetz:”We are concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg and will ultimately become a larger issue than, say, dropping of lifeboats.

The numbers are simply too high, and the incidents too frequent, to dismiss as unfortunate one-offs. It is unsatisfactory to conclude that it was the victims’ faults, because they, and their would-be rescuers, didn’t follow procedures, and close the book

What they show is that there is something deeply wrong with the system and with the industry that allows deaths on such a scale without a qualm. If there were qualms, there would be a solid drive to find a solution and there isn’t one. It’s a record of which the industry should be ashamed.

It is self-evident that training is inadequate in the first place and the necessary drills are not being carried out onboard or alongside in the procedures for safe entry and rescue from confined spaces.

Training will be ineffective unless backed-up by a positive management level commitment to managing safety, assessing competence onboard and developing a safety culture from company head-office to the master to the deputy chief assist cook’s chief assistant deputy. All too often putting a safety management system on a ship is little more than a butt-covering exercise to avoid liability when the worse happens.

Let’s look at it another way. If the estimates of deaths in enclosed spaces are reasonably accurate, and there’s every reason to believe they are, then enough lives have been lost to put crew on 40 to 50 cargo ships. Currently the industry is going through paroxysms of recruitment to fulfill manning needs of the future, maybe they should spend just a little more time trying to keep alive the ones they’ve already got.

Jan 132008
 
Two dead in Baltic Sea lifeboat accident
Sydney Morning Herald – Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
Two people died and one was seriously injured in a lifeboat accident onboard a container freight ship in the Baltic Sea, officials said. 
Posted 01/11/08 at 10:31 AM

Reuters reported that an oil tanker burst into flames at Nigeria’s Port Harcourt on Friday after two loud explosions were heard, oil industry sources said. The tanker was berthed in a general cargo area, not at an oil exporting terminal, and crude exports from the world’s eighth largest oil exporter were not affected, the sources said..

Ferry Collision in Fog Near Macau Injures 140 People (Update1)
Bloomberg – USA
Low visibility may have caused the collision, Shun Tak- China Travel Ship Management Ltd., the operator of the two jetfoils, said in an e-mailed statement

Mozambique: Search for Shipwreck Bodies Called Off
AllAfrica.com – Washington,USA
The maritime authorities in the central Mozambican province of Sofala have called off the search for further survivors or bodies following the sinking of a 

Coal ships stranded as fog causes power crisis
Shanghai Daily – Shanghai,China
The Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration yesterday opened emergency water channels to allow coal-supply vessels to make deliveries. 

Chief Engineer Sentenced

WASHINGTON—Mark Humphries, the former chief engineer of the M/V Tanabata, an American-flagged car-carrier ship based in Baltimore, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to six months in prison for conspiracy to make illegal discharges of oily waste and lying to the Coast Guard, announced Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

CHEMICAL TANKER TOWED TO SAFETY
Maritime Global Net – Warren,RI,USA
Units on scene reported that it was a close run thing that the vessel did not ground given the prevailing swell conditions and wind conditions which 

Drama in the Bay
Dorset Echo – England,UK
By Laura Kitching A TANKER at risk of grounding in Weymouth Bay is today secure at Portland Port. The 77000-tonne Mariella had drifted to within 200 metres 

Ship that hit bottom slightly damaged
The Grand Rapids Press – MLive.com – Grand Rapids,MI,USA
The Coast Guard was notified of the incident in Muskegon, as required after any reportable grounding, and a hull inspection showed minor damage to the 

Strong current, human error probable causes of barge hitting bridge
San Francisco Chronicle – CA, USA
However, maritime sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said a likely cause was that the barge got away from the tug Pacific Wolf because of strong 

RNLI’s broadside after alert over ferry passenger
Basingstoke Gazette – Basingstoke,England,UK
A LIFEBOAT charity has called on Red Funnel to review the way it counts passengers on and off its vessels. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution said the 

Scientists Unveil Cause of Estonia Ferry Disaster
Spiegel Online – Berlin,Germany
By Ulrich Jaeger Scientists in Hamburg have simulated the sinking of the Estonia, the 1994 Baltic Sea ferry disaster that killed 852 people. 

Jan 132008
 

The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has issued a Flyer reminding the maritime community of dangers associated with fumigated cargo.  Following a recent crew member casualty, it was determined that the fumigant (phosphine gas) leaked from the cargo hold into the adjacent berthing space.  Owners, operators, and masters of ships that carry fumigated cargo are advised to carefully review their fumigation procedures and precautions.

See also

The Case of the Tablets Of Love